The evidence abounds: Too many go without

The heartening headline "State's health care safety net expands for thousands of kids" (July 27) reminds us how many people are still without health care. The carnage in the Colorado movie theater reminds us how many working adults have no health insurance. We read that hospitals and medical professionals are donating services, that funds are being collected to cover medical expenses for the wounded, and that some victims are concerned about covering millions of dollars of expenses.

Those who hate "Obamacare" and deplore the liberal obsession with universal health care coverage should learn from this -- and from the hundreds of auto accidents that happen ever day -- that even the healthiest of us may incur massive and surprising medical expenses in the blink of an eye. We should also think about how adequate medical care in childhood prevents massive medical expenses in adulthood.

Universal coverage, getting insurance in spite of preexisting conditions, not depending on your job for your health care: All are signs of a progressive society. If we claim to be such a society, we should make adequate basic health care available to all of our citizens and even to guests.


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Gun control

A call for action -- and a call for freedom

After the Colorado shooting, members of Congress are again wringing their hands. However, there is something the U.S. Senate could do, and that is schedule a hearing on three common-sense gun safety bills that have been languishing in the Senate Judiciary Committee since two weeks after the Tuscon-Giffords shooting:

The Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act: This would prohibit the manufacture and sale of ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds. A high-capacity magazine was used in both Tuscon and Aurora.

The Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Criminal Act: Sen. Al Franken, to his credit, is one of the sponsors.

The Gun Show Background Check Act: This would close the gun-show loophole that allows guns to be sold to criminals and terrorists without the background checks that licensed gun dealers are required to perform.

These are common-sense bills that would enhance public safety -- they are not radical ideas.

Minnesota has two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- Franken and Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Democrats have a 10-8 majority on the committee. Please call or write both of these senators today requesting that they use their influence to get a hearing date in the near future.


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A recent letter proposed that the Second Amendment be repealed "because it doesn't work." The letter writer used the repeal of the 18th Amendment (relating to Prohibition) as a case study. I wish to point out a few things.

The 21st Amendment (which repealed the 18th) was a reaction to a failed social experiment intended to instill "morality." It actually did the opposite. It turned hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens into criminals for simply enjoying a cocktail. In addition, it enabled organized crime to secure power and influence enjoyed to this day.

Repealing an amendment in the Bill of Rights would open a Pandora's box. What makes you think that other amendments wouldn't be judged not to "work?"

Once sick individuals get it into their head to cause mayhem, they will use any method at their disposal. Would this latest crime have been any less heinous if the suspect had barred the doors to the theater and set it on fire? Or had set off a Timothy McVeigh-style fertilizer bomb?

Although I am an advocate of gun rights, I am not naive enough to think that Wild West gunplay is the answer. But criminalizing gun ownership for law-abiding citizens would be another failed social experiment.


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Column failed to give a complete picture

Jon Tevlin's column "Covert deals, phantom jobs blemish frac sand debate" (July 14) was detrimental to an honest public discussion about sand mining.

Tevlin asked a resident of Maiden Rock, Wis., about the job situation "now that the mine was up and running," apparently unaware that there has been an underground sand mine in Maiden Rock since the late 1920s and that the mine has been operated by Wisconsin Industrial Sand Company since 1996.

Tevlin quoted the resident as saying no one from Maiden Rock worked at the mine, when in fact seven of the mine's 61 employees live in the Maiden Rock zip code (population 1,320). More than a third of the employees live within 10 miles of the mine, and three-quarters live within 25 miles. The economic impact of the mine to the Pierce County region is $4.25 million a year.

In addition, Wisconsin Industrial Sand donated almost a quarter of a million dollars to public schools and nonprofit organizations in Pierce and Dunn counties last year. Maiden Rock employees volunteered more than 1,015 hours within the community in 2011, working on projects such as the nearby Pine Creek restoration, snow-plowing and dock installation/removal and maintenance for the Village of Maiden Rock.


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Lowering the flag

Reserve the action for those who've served

From July 11-16, seven soldiers died in Afghanistan from injuries suffered in combat. But President Obama and Gov. Mark Dayton did not order the U.S. flag to be flown at half-staff for these men who gave their lives for their country.

Yet, when 12 people were killed in Aurora, Colo., both men ordered flags to be flown at half-staff.

The U.S. flag is simply being lowered far too often. The honor has been cheapened so much that we seldom pay any attention. The worst example was in New Jersey, for the singer Whitney Houston.

The honor is degraded when we lower the flag for a pop singer or for deaths by tornadoes or similar events. The flag is our national symbol, and should be flown at half-staff only for those who have sacrificed.